When Stalin demanded in 1944 that all Soviet Union republics be admitted to the un, he revealed a conception of sovereignty that diverged from the usual perception of Soviet diplomacy as exceedingly centralised. Soviet theories and practices of sovereignty consisted indeed in a mix of contradictory elements, illustrating the communist criticism of bourgeois international law, but also a willingness to re-use parts of it and tailor them to new political needs. This article focuses on this elastic approach to sovereignty, its legal expression and diplomatic rationale. Particular attention is paid to the sovereignty of Union republics, central to Soviet legal rhetoric, that led them to be active in the international arena in the 1920s and after 1944, and develop state institutions that would smooth up the transition to independence after 1991.
I.P. Trajnin, ‘K voprosu o suverenitete’, Sovetskoe gosudarstvo i pravo2 (1938), 75–108; see too, Sabine Dullin, ‘How to wage warfare without going to war? Stalin’s 1939 war in the light of other contemporary aggressions’, Cahiers du Monde Russe, 52 (2–3) (April–September 2011), 221–243.
Jean-François Fayet, ‘En l’absence de relations diplomatiques et de puissance protectrice: La protection des intérêts soviétiques durant la période dite de transition’, Relations internationales3 (143) (2010), 75–88.
Joseph Stalin, Marxism and the National Question. Selected Writings and Speeches (New York: International Publishers, 1942); Alfred J. Rieber, ‘Stalin as Georgian: The Formative Years’, in Sarah Davies/James Harris (eds.), Stalin. A New History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2005), 18–44.
Intervention of Lukashuk, 4 April1968, United Nations Conference on the Law of Treaties. First session Vienna 26 March–24 May 1968 (New York: un 1969), 66; James P. Nichol, Diplomacy in the Former Soviet Republics (Westport-London: Praeger 1995), 21.
Intervention of Kearny, 4 April1968, United Nations Conference on the Law of Treaties . . . (1969), 65.
O. Khlestov, ‘Pravo mezhdunarodnykh dogovorov’, Sovetskoe Gosudarstvo i Pravo12 (1962), 62–69, quoted by Uibopuu, Die Völkerrechtssubjektivität der Unionsrepubliken der UdSSR 1975 (n. 9), 18–19.